‘Go back to China’ she screamed.
Robert Luo has been a journalist for The New York Times for over 13 years and is currently reporting on the 2016 election. But a recent event from his personal life has made him the center of a story that’s inspired countless Asian-Americans to share their experiences with prejudice.
Recently, on a rainy afternoon, Luo was confronted by a well-dressed woman pushing a stroller on the streets of New York City. As the woman and her child rushed towards towards Luo and a large group of Asian-Americans, she yelled “Go Back to China!” Luo couldn’t believe what he heard, so he ran over to the woman and she threatened to call the police. After he walked away, she yelled back, “Go back to your f**king country!” Luo felt silly engaging with the woman, but still felt a deep need to prove he belonged: “I was born in this country!” he screamed back.
Here’s an excerpt from an open letter he wrote to the woman in The New York Times:
You had on a nice rain coat. Your iPhone was a 6 Plus. You could have been a fellow parent in one of my daughters’ schools. You seemed, well, normal. But you had these feelings in you, and, the reality is, so do a lot of people in this country right now.
Maybe you don’t know this, but the insults you hurled at my family get to the heart of the Asian-American experience. It’s this persistent sense of otherness that a lot of us struggle with every day. That no matter what we do, how successful we are, what friends we make, we don’t belong. We’re foreign. We’re not American. It’s one of the reasons that Fox News segment the other day on Chinatown by Jesse Watters, with the karate and nunchucks and broken English, generated so much outrage.
Luo’s tweet and open letter have inspired other Asian-Americans to share their experiences of prejudice as well. Here’s just a small sample of their stories:
walking in soho i had a man shout in my face CHING CHANG CHONG CHONG. i'm filipino american #thisis2016 @michaelluo— lauren (@lauren)1476458951.0
At the GOP Convention: Woman: "Are you with the Asian media?" Me: "No, I'm with NY1 in New York City." Woman: "Is it Asian?" #thisis2016— Reena Diamante (@Reena Diamante)1476213219.0
And this was in Brooklyn, 2015 #thisis2016 https://t.co/2ugpKZKt8C— Connie Sun 🌞 (@Connie Sun 🌞)1476106082.0
@michaelluo A woman throws up on me at a Boston restaurant, refused to apologize since "I am not American" #thisis2016— Toshi T. (@Toshi T.)1476105309.0
@michaelluo I was eating fried rice at a friend's store. Guy walks in and booms "HOW ABOUT THAT. CHINAMAN EAT'N CHINARICE!" #thisis2016— Allan Chow (@Allan Chow)1476104052.0
@michaelluo Colleagues have asked, without malice, "When does your work visa end?" I was born here. #thisis2016— Nina Lin (@Nina Lin)1476103036.0